College pre-frosh ( = pre-freshmen), you're in for a rude awakening come September. You already know you'll miss your family and BFFs from back home, and -- while you admit that heading off to university is equal parts exciting and terrifying -- you probably think you're soooo over high school. We guarantee you're not as over it as you think you are. Here's what you'll miss by the end of your first college semester:
Being able to make up exams
In high school, you can pretty much always make up missed tests. On vacay with your family? Visiting colleges? Taking a "personal health" day? Regardless of why you missed the exam, your teacher will often let you make it up during study hall or before or after school. You likely won't get an outright zero unless you very obviously cut class without notice.
In college, exam dates and times are set in stone on course syllabi. You know about them from the very first day of class, so you're expected to plan your schedule around them. Some professors are kind enough to let you drop one exam grade. If you miss one and, therefore, get a zero on it, you can just choose to drop that exam.
Other profs aren't as generous. If you miss a midterm or final, too bad. You get a zero unless you have a legitimate reason -- for example, serious illness or the death of a family member -- for doing so.
Not missing anything major when you're sick
Whether you're actually sick or just pretending to be, catching a nasty cold or enduring a bout of food poisoning -- while very unpleasant -- is NBD in high school. You can stay home vomming up your innards or zonked out on your bed. Then, when you're feeling better, you can skip into school and make up everything you missed, if you even missed anything at all. Your teachers or BFFs lend you the notes, and you have an automatic excuse for turning in your homework late.
In college, professors pack so much info into every lecture that it's wayyy harder to make up for lost time. Having an annoying cough isn't enough to get you an extension on that term paper you procrastinated on until the last minute. Unless you or a close family member gets seriously ill -- and we hope that doesn't happen -- being sick isn't a foolproof excuse.
Sure, some high schools have finals. Those of you who took AP classes had cumulative AP tests every spring. But for the most part, your exams were never cumulative. They covered a handful of textbook chapters, and you could forget about the material as soon as you finished the test.
College finals are the bane of every students' existence because they're always cumulative. You have to remember everything, including stuff you've already been tested on, from the entire semester. That's a whole lot of memorization.
Knowing everyone in your class
When you know everyone in your class, it's easier to hit them up for notes or the homework you didn't do. When everyone who sits next to you is a complete stranger, it's harder to ask them for a favor when you need to skip class because you're
hungovernot feeling well.
Teachers knowing your name
Your teachers care about you in high school. They know your name and your personality because they interact with you every day. College professors don't not care about you, but they have hundreds of students to keep track of. It's impossible to get know everyone individually unless you make it a point to make yourself known.
Both types of educators want to see you succeed, but high school teachers will figuratively hold your hand much more than professors will. If you fail an important test in high school, your teacher will reach out to you to see what's going on. If you fail a midterm in college, it's your responsibility to take advantage of office hours and talk to your professor.
Extra credit is a thing you can ask for in high school. Extra credit is not a thing you can ask for in college. I learned this the hard way.
If you're lucky, a particularly generous professor may offer extra credit to the entire class instead of on an individual, case-by-case basis. If this happens, seize the opportunity. ALWAYS do the extra credit, even if you don't think you'll need it. You don't want to be the kid who was one percentage point away from acing the class come the end of the semester. No matter how nicely you ask, the professor will not bump you up to an A.
Everyone can get an A...
...if everyone earns an A. Classes aren't curved in high school. If a test is super easy, everyone reaps the benefits. You're happy to share your notes with your classmates because you can both do well on the exam. One person succeeding doesn't mean someone else failed.
College introduces you to the horrible world of curved classes. Picture this: There are hundreds of students in your Introductory Biology lecture. Only 30% of you can get an A. What happens? Everyone starts competing with each other to be in that top percentage. You become super-possessive of your precious notes, because helping someone else could mean hurting your own success.
The rule of thumb to ace a curved class is for your raw exam grade to be one or two standard deviations above the mean grade. If everyone does well on the exam, you want to do a littttle bit better than everyone else. (I guess now it's time to learn statistics ... ?)
Joining all the clubs and sports you want
It's not just the classes that become more competitive. In high school, it's easy to rack up a laundry list of extracurriculars by joining every club ever. In college, you need to apply for that community service project. You need to audition for that role. You need to try out for that intramural team. And you will get rejected by some of them.
This is actually a blessing in disguise. Getting rejected, as horrible as it sounds, is good preparation for the scary post-college real world. And when you're involved in fewer clubs, you'll have more time to focus on the stuff you're truly passionate about.
A mandatory lunchbreak
Complain all you want about cafeteria lunches, they were still edible -- OK, questionably edible -- food served to you on a predictable regular basis. You didn't need to think about where or when to eat lunch or if you even had time to eat at all.
In college, you're responsible for feeding yourself even if you have classes back-to-back from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There's no lunch or snack break unless you wisely schedule your courses for one. (If you must eat during class, make sure it's something quiet and relatively odorless. A jam-packed lecture hall is not the place to chow down on a burrito and chips.)
A note or call from your parents solves every problem
Didn't get into the class you wanted? Your parents can call the guidance counselor to see what other options are available -- or just talk them into letting you into the class you wanted in the first place. Need to get out of school early on Friday? Your parents can write you a note excusing your absence.
You're on your own in college. If you have a problem to deal with, you need to deal with it yourself. There are no parent/teacher conferences for a reason. Profs don't want to get a phone call from a mom asking why her kid failed their course. Getting your 'rents involved won't change the outcome you're trying to change. It will just infinitely irritate everyone else involved. You're a (gulp) grown-up now.
A field trip in college is called studying abroad, and Ms. Frizzle from "The Magic School Bus" definitely does not want to witness the non-academic shenanigans you get yourself into across the pond.
Unless you're studying film, there are no movie days in college. Sorry, Bill Nye.
Once upon a time, you could finish all of your assignments in one 45-minute study hall period. Now every waking moment when you're not in class is your study hall. If you're not studying, there's a dark cloud hanging over your head reminding you to pick up the books. Welcome to college, everyone.